‘Cork in the bottle’ pinpointed at Red Bull as grave Carlos Sainz concern raised

Michelle Foster
Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez are reportedly fighting for the 2025 Red Bull seat

Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez are reportedly fighting for the 2025 Red Bull seat

Sergio Perez could be the “cork in the bottle” that ultimately leads to Carlos Sainz having to take a drive with a team in the bottom half of the field.

Although Sainz has been the most impressive driver after Max Verstappen this season, the Spaniard is facing an uncertain future as he does not have a race seat for next season.

‘Putting Sainz in the Red Bull would be a no-brainer for me’

Dropped by Ferrari in favour of Lewis Hamilton, the 2024 Australian Grand Prix winner has been linked to Red Bull, Mercedes and Audi.

The latter, currently running as Stake, is his most likely destination given he wants his future resolved “sooner rather than later” but Mercedes are waiting on Andrea Kimi Antonelli and Red Bull want to see how Perez’s season progresses.

Although Perez currently sits P2 in the championship with a hat-trick of runner-up results, an extension of his Red Bull contract is by no means guaranteed given last year’s drop-off in pace.

As such, even though Audi are, according to Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko, hounding Sainz for a decision, Martin Brundle believes Sainz should bide his time as “two weeks” can even be a long time in F1.

And for the former F1 driver, putting Sainz in Perez’s Red Bull seat should the team decide to replace the Mexican driver is a “no-brainer”.

“It’s really tough for him,” Brundle told Sky Sports. “In the pre-season I said I thought he was going to fly this year because the pressure is off, he can drive for himself a little bit more this year with the team biting him off for Lewis Hamilton.

“His natural talents are always going to flow with nothing to lose and everything to gain, or have the right mentality to just go and fly and really just take it to everybody and show everybody how wrong they are.

“That’s exactly what he’s done and he’s left Charles Leclerc floundering to an extent and in some respects, and I would never underestimate Charles Leclerc, but I’d never underestimate Carlos Sainz either.

“I can understand what Ferrari have done, two biggest brands in Formula One probably are Ferrari and Lewis Hamilton right now, and they’re joining up and it’s a great story.

“I think Mercedes, if Antonelli is ready, they’ll try and put Antonelli in Lewis Hamilton seat.

“So will Perez kick the Red Bull seat? That’s the key, that’s the cork in the bottle. Because putting Sainz in the Red Bull would be a no-brainer for me – or Aston Martin or Mercedes Benz for that matter. He’s now got the experience, got speed, he still got youth on his side.

“So the problem Team Sainz have is that Sauber, let’s call them Audi going forward, are putting him under pressure to do a long-term deal, which means he will then be at Sauber next year treading water, and then hanging all of his chances on how quickly Audi can get their team and their power unit together and become competitive. And that’s no small task.

“So he could actually go off and have a really serious three, even four seasons with another team and still join Audi when they’re ripe and ready to go. But they’re putting him under pressure to sign and I don’t see the other three teams ready to give into that pressure and sign Sainz.

“My advice to Carlos and his dad would be things happen very quickly in this business. Two weeks is a very long time in Formula One and just keep your options open.”

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Karun Chandhok: I think it’s a bit of a shame for Carlos Sainz

But Audi, currently P9 in the rankings as Stake, is Sainz’s most realistic option for 2025 is a “shame” for former F1 driver Karun Chandhok.

Declaring there is a notable divide between F1’s top and bottom half in performance, the former HRT driver isn’t happy that Sainz could find himself in the lower half of the field.

“There is a split,” said Chandhok, “and it does feel like on the first four weekends, you’ve got the top-nine locked in by those teams and then the bottom five teams are basically competing against Stroll for that last point. That seems to be the way it’s playing out at the moment.

“And when you come into the things like the driver market, you’ve got a guy like Sainz who is unemployed.

He may not get a seat at Red Bull, might not get a seat at Mercedes, but he’s probably not going to get to a seat at Aston Martin either because if Fernando doesn’t go anywhere and Lance is holding that seat, suddenly you’ve got a race winner from the last two seasons who is potentially looking at one of the sort of bottom five teams for his future.

“I think it’s a bit of a shame. And it’s only four races in as early in the year but you know that’s the indication.”

Pressed on whether Sainz could sit out the 2025 season to wait for a better 2026 option, the former driver said: “We’ve seen drivers take a year out because they didn’t get the seat they wanted but they were the ones who had already won their championships and had nothing to prove.

“I think it’s different in Carlos’ case. He’s at a different stage of his life, different stage of his career, he’s yet to to get that championship run, you know, that chance to to challenge for the championship, let alone win one.

“So I don’t think that’s all something he’d be looking at doing at this stage of his life.”

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